Safe Work Australia has been working towards adopting the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7 for workplace hazardous chemicals under the model WHS laws since late 2019.

A two-year transitional period was due to start on 1 July 2020. However, Safe Work Australia Members have recently decided to delay the start of the transitional period due to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses.

The new start date for the transitional period is 1 January 2021. A full two-year transitional period will follow from this date. The two-year time frame will allow manufacturers and importers time to prepare new classifications, labels and safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals to meet GHS 7 requirements.

To ensure that any importers and manufacturers that had already begun work on implementing GHS 7 are not disadvantaged, state and territory governments will put in place regulatory arrangements allowing businesses to start classifying and labelling chemicals in accordance with GHS 7 from 1 July 2020. Suppliers and end users will also be able to supply and use GHS 7 labelled chemicals under these arrangements. Details of the regulatory arrangements will be published on the Safe Work Australia website when they become available.

Manufacturers, suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals will be able to continue to supply and use chemicals classified and labelled under GHS Revision 3 in the lead up to and during the transitional period.